So I finally go around to watching the fourth Matrix film after hearing mostly negative things, and you know what? This time… they’re pretty spot on, sadly. Seemingly pointing the finger at and insulting people who like the original films, really bad fight choreography and just flat and dull direction and often acting, this film has “we didn’t want to make it” written all over it, in one scene literally! Oh well, were there any highlights at all? Let’s see…
To find out if his reality is a physical or mental construct, Mr. Anderson, aka Neo, will have to choose to follow the white rabbit once more. If he’s learned anything, it’s that choice, while an illusion, is still the only way out of — or into — the Matrix. Neo already knows what he has to do, but what he doesn’t yet know is that the Matrix is stronger, more secure and far more dangerous than ever before.
*spoilers appear from here on out!*
The always uplifting real world!
The only thing I really enjoyed was a look at how the world of The Matrix had moved on during an in-universe sixty years. The peace with the machines Neo (Keanu Reeves) had garnered at the end of Revolutions ended up sticking but a machine-on-machine war over resources did significant damage anyway, leading to the human survivors moving to a new city known as Io. That being said while some on both sides still have hatred towards the other, the peace has led to a good chunk of humans, sentient programs and machines all co-existing, Io being crafted by a combination of all three (thanks to a technology that allows programs to interact with the real world via a net of floating ball bearings. Very fun to look at) So that was fun to hear about / see. A new version of The Matrix has been created by a machine known as The Analyst (Neil Patrick Harris), who also used tech to resurrect both Neo and Trinity in the real world and then plug them into his Matrix in order to syphon their power as a connected “The One” pairing that they apparently are. He’s fine as a villain, scenery chewing in the best way. Several old programs from the previous trilogy were purged during the transfer to a new Matrix as well. So I enjoyed the lore dump aspect… that was a about it though…
Actually Sati, the little girl program from Revolutions who had some kind of control over the Matrix, returned now as a fully grown woman, erm, program (played by Priyanka Chopra Jonas) and helps Neo because her “parents” were wiped out by the purge between Matrix versions. That was actually a fun revelation and the fact she travelled in a butterfly-like machine in the real world that had it’s own program world in it was quite good and a fun use of the world.
“Woah. The original films were better than this. …. Oh well.”
I think first off the most important thing to mention as being bad was the direction, particularly in the action scenes. Whether you love them or hate them the thing you always have to praise the original trilogy for is the action set pieces but here they were all incredibly dull, lacking in any fancy tricks or editing and in really plain surrounding like dull warehouses or dark city streets. If you’re only going to get one thing right about a Matrix film it’s the action part and they failed that completely (though the actually philosophical and science fiction parts are also welcome, obviously).
This brings me to my next complaint: Lana Wachowski really, really didn’t want to make this film, did she? So in this Matrix Neo has been set up as a game programmer who is famous for making a trilogy of games called “The Matrix” that follow the plot of the films and there is actually a scene where Neo’s called into his boss’s office to get told that “their publishers, Warner Bros., want us to make a sequel to the Matrix Trilogy and have told us if we don’t do it they’ll do it without us”, to which Neo bemoans that they shouldn’t be able to do that and then boss pretty much says “I know, it sucks, but we’ll have to do one anyway”. So subtly is out the window from the off. Then thanks to a combination of The Matrix Trilogy being a thing in this Matrix and the fact that Neo made a program within the Matrix that featured a Morpheus character (played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II) that is then saved and brought into the Matrix proper by Bugs (Jessica Henwick), a girl not unlike Trinity, leads to endless call backs to the original series, most of which is created to mock it. Seriously Lana decided to take some time to make the fans of the Matrix feel bad for liking it and wanting this sequel. Throw in the fact that Keanu couldn’t even be bothered to change his John Wick look for the film and generally looks like he’d rather be any where else and the whole film feels like nobody wants to be involved with it and you should feel bad for potentially liking it due to the old films apparently now being crap and cliché. (well, they are at the very least cliché to be fair, but I still shouldn’t be mocked for liking it within a film in the same series, anyway…)
I’m not sure if I should applaud Groff’s choice to do his own thing with the Smith character or not, as trying to copy the original probably wouldn’t have worked either…
I mean Bugs is actually a perfectly good character, but Morpheus mark 2 is no original Morpheus and Neo’s boss I mentioned earlier is actually a program either based on or actually the original Agent Smith but is played by Jonathan Groff, who just… doesn’t do a very good job. So it’s laughable that they brow-beat the original Trilogy only to give us a film with far worse… everything instead. Niobe (Jada Pinkett Smith) from the original films is back in unconvincing old woman make up, which I didn’t actually know about so that was a surprise. Sadly she acts completely closed up and by-the-book which is the opposite of her original character, which don’t get me wrong can easily happen as one gets older and more cynical, but she’s the only character (who wasn’t resurrected in a pod) back from the original series but she acts and looks so off that she may as well not be, so what was the point?
Actually there were two more characters from the original films that returned, thinking about it. Sati, who I already mentioned, and The Merovingian (once again played by Lambert Wilson) who was now an exiled program after the previous Matrix was destroyed. That could’ve been an interesting twist but sadly all they could think was “remember when he swore in French? Everyone remembers that scene, let’s make it so that’s all he does. Literally.” In case you’re wondering everyone rescues Neo from his real world pod, he struggles to reconnect with his “One Powers” and wants to rescue Trinity from her pod and eventually does thanks to the help of Sati. Together Neo and Trinity (still played by Carrie-Anne Moss, for the record… she’s fine in it but meh…) fight back against The Analyst after the latter is freed from her Matrix personality. The film ends with Trinity having the powers of The One as well as Neo so they both fly off together in a scene similar to the end of the first film. It could’ve at least been passable if the action was at least enjoyable in between these scenes, but alas after all these years all this new Matrix film has done is make Revolutions look far better…
Trinity tries to break free into a better film but instead just gets some more naff visual effects.
The Matrix Resurrections is very much a Monkey’s Paw effort. We got a fourth Matrix film but it was seemingly made with a gun to everyone’s head and they made sure to phone it in as much as possible, as well as make you feel bad for even liking the original films in the first place, let alone a new one. I did enjoy some of the lore and the new ideas on display, but that only goes so far… Well, even though I was pretty sure they’d never be a fourth I think we can all agree there won’t be a fifth!